Nebraska fires coach Bo Pelini

— -- LINCOLN, Neb. -- Bo Pelini was fired on Sunday, ending the seven-year run of the polarizing figure as Nebraska's football coach.

"Earlier this morning, I informed coach Bo Pelini of our decision to move forward in a new direction," athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement released Sunday. "Coach Pelini served our University admirably for seven years and led our football program's transition to the Big Ten Conference. We wish Coach Pelini and his wonderful family all the best and thank him for his dedicated service to the University."

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said he supported the decision and wished Pelini well.

"I am confident that Shawn will find the best coach, teacher and fit for this University and for our football program," he said.

Pelini is owed $7.65 million by Nebraska on his contract, extended after last season through February 2019. Nebraska's assistants are under contract through January 2016.

The former defensive coordinator at LSU and Oklahoma, Pelini, in his first head-coaching job, produced notable consistency but little evidence that Nebraska was set to take the next step as a program. It lost 59-24 at Wisconsin on Nov. 15, surrendering a then-FBS record 408 rushing yards to Melvin Gordon in the latest embarrassing defeat for the program.

Nebraska has lost 10 games by 20 points or more since 2008, Pelini's first season, and allowed 45 points or more in six games since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011.

Pelini improved to 67-27 as Nebraska's coach on Friday with a 37-34 overtime win at Iowa. The victory pushed Pelini's win total past Tom Osborne for the most ever at the school in a coach's first seven years.

In fact, no coach in the history of a Power 5 program had been fired for on-field performance after winning as many games in his first seven years. Only Alabama and Oregon -- first and second this week in the College Football Playoff rankings -- can match the Huskers in winning nine games each year since 2008.

Nebraska trailed on Friday by 17 points with two minutes left in the third quarter.

"I knew our kids would keep fighting," Pelini said Friday.

The Huskers scored three touchdowns in less than five minutes of clock time to take the lead, then fell behind in the final two minutes and tied it on a field goal with eight seconds left.

"A lot of people would roll it in," said receiver Kenny Bell, who caught the winning score in overtime after being knocked out of the Senior Day loss to Minnesota with a concussion six days earlier. "There's no Big Ten championship. There's no accolades or awards for winning this football game. We just rolled up our sleeves and went to work. That group of guys in there is unbelievably resilient."

Players credit Pelini for that resilience.

"Coach Bo," left guard Jake Cotton said. "Position coaches. This staff really has taken the time and really molded us into a group that won't quit."

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong did not support the decision, taking to Twitter to voice his disagreement.

Nebraska now faces an uncertain future, searching for its fourth coach since the 1997 retirement of Osborne.